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Search Engine Optimisation

There are a variety of ways you can use your web site CMS to improve your site's performance in search engines such as Google.

On this page

  1. What is Search Engine Optimisation?
  2. Getting Started: What SEO entails
  3. Step 1: Know Thy Enemy
  4. Step 2: Make a list of search terms or phrases
  5. Step 3: You’ve got your keywords and phrases ready so now it’s time to get creative
  6. Writing effective copy that both your human readers and Google will understand
  7. First stop: Using your Keywords & Phrases within the Page Title tag
  8. Next stop on Google’s journey: the Heading and Paragraph Tags
  9. Summary


  1. Why doesn't my site appear in Google or other search engines yet?
  2. How can I add Google Analytics code to my website?

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Tip: Don't get blacklisted

Remember not to repeat keywords in the following manner "florist, florist, florist, florist". 

This is known as spamming and can result in search engines blacklisting your site so that it is not displayed in search results.

It is okay to use the same word when it appears in different configurations i.e., "florist shop Melbourne, wedding bouquet florist".

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process that makes your web site and its pages more visible to search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Ideally you want your web pages to appear on page 1 of search results for your preferred user search terms (e.g. "fresh fruit sydney", "melbourne city dentist" or "paint supplies auckland", etc.).

In a nutshell, you want as wide an audience as possible to find your products and services.

SEO is a broad reaching subject that can take years to master and fully grasp. There are many hundreds of books written on the subject and thousands of businesses in every city vying for a slice of the SEO pie. SEO is big business because when applied properly, it can mean solid returns through substantially increased traffic to your website. Without SEO, your website can languish in the depths of Google on pages well below the prized Page 1 position.

Optimisation can be expensive because it’s labour intensive through research and implementation and, it’s ongoing. It never ends for most businesses because competitors are continuingly optimising their web pages to rank well in Google. So unless you want to be left behind, you also need to follow suit. This doesn’t necessarily imply that you have to go through the entire SEO process every 30 days (unless you have the budget or time to do so) but you do need to be aware of how Google and co. work and how they index your web pages from week to week.

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Getting Started: What SEO entails

Remember: These are just the basics!

Beyond these basics and "on-page" optimisation techniques, there are other factors that must be considered such as creating a (XML) site map file, and more.

The information that we have presented here includes the techniques that you can apply yourself by using your web site's Dashboard interface and on-page SEO tools.

The basics of on-page SEO include the following, however, SEO is not restricted to these points alone:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Site structure and balance / page creation
  3. Copywriting and page implementation consisting of:
    1. Page Title creation
    2. Meta descriptions
    3. Correct page Heading (e.g. h1 and h2) tag creation
    4. Paragraph creation
    5. Image tag & description creation

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Step 1: Know Thy Enemy

Do you know where your competitors are positioned when their customers type search terms into Google? When your web site is published, it doesn’t magically appear at the top of Google’s page 1. Chances are, thousands – often millions – of other businesses also sell or promote similar products or services online.

The first step is to learn what your competitors are doing to get their websites sitting up top on Google, on page 1. If your web site’s to be ranking on page 2 or lower, then your results are likely to be average at best. When was the last time you searched for something on Google and actually clicked on the ‘next page’ link at the bottom of the page? Unless you're looking for something rare, you're unlikely to move beyond page 1, page 2 at best.

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Step 2: Make a list of preferred search terms and phrases

It’s no good having the belief that your customers will type into their web browser your company’s name, because potential customers won’t necessarily type in a business name to find you. Step out of the box for a minute and write down a list of search terms you believe people will use to find your stuff.

What you effectively need to do next is to ascertain how many people actually use the terms in your list to find products or services and then decide whether to optimise your website for the most popular search terms or perhaps take a different tact and optimise your website for more obscure (but still relatively popular) search terms.

Using Google’s keyword analysis tool, you can learn how popular specific search term are in both Global and Local search results. Most business owners will want to focus on local results, i.e. capital city, town or perhaps state.

Keyword analysis tools such as those offered by Google (through their AdWords application), can quickly build a picture of which terms or phrases are used, where they’re used and at what times of year they’re most popular.

Once you’ve researched and settled on the terms and phrases suitable for your business, you can then build those terms into your web site’s pages using your web site's Dashboard interface.

Now the whole process of keyword research isn’t quite this simplistic but it should give you an introduction as to what you need to start thinking about. For example, it’s good to also view the source HTML code of the web sites that rank up top in Google using the search terms you’re hoping to optimise your web site for. This gives you a very clear picture of the keywords and phrases being used on any given web site and how they’re placed within a web page’s Page Title, h1 Tag and so on.

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Step 3: You’ve got your keywords and phrases ready so now it’s time to get creative

This is where you put your wordsmith hat on! Here’s your challenge: you must now integrate your chosen keywords into the web page’s Page Title, Meta Description, h1 tag and paragraph text, tying the keywords and phrases together in such a way that your human readers will respond to your words and sentences, and a way that Google will sit up and take note – and index your page accordingly.

Google won’t respond well to a page that’s littered with meaningless keywords and little else. When Google arrives at your web page it looks, in this order, at the page’s Page Title and Meta Description, compares that text with your page’s heading (labeled using the “h1” tag) before moving down the page and into the paragraph text. Along the way Google looks for words and sentences in bold type, whole phrases acting as hyperlinks to other web sites or pages within your own web site and then, if all those elements are relevant to each other, decides how well (or how high in the search rankings) to index your page.

Let’s pause for a second. You’re probably thinking, “OK, If my page optimisation is perfect in every way, then I’ll rank #1 on page 1 in Google, right?”. Not quite. If, in the previous step of keyword research, you decided to “take on the big guns” and optimise your website for the most popularly used search terms relevant to your business, then it could take up to 12 months before Google decides to throw someone else off the top perch and position your website there instead. Don’t forget, too, that to get to the top on Google takes months and months of continual optimisation, tweaking and so on.

Many SEO specialists will therefore advise you to target search terms that don’t go head to head with the big guns but instead focus on your area of expertise – a niche of sorts – and, in real terms – a play on words that still allow people to find your products and services using more refined search terms.

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Writing effective copy that both your human readers and Google will understand

Remember that once you write copy for each of your website’s pages, you’ll be refining that copy again in a few months from now. So don’t stress about writing copy that Hemingway would have been proud of, but instead settle on effective copy that you know you can refine and modify as the months go by. Remember the Golden Rule: Google loves new and fresh content so don’t ever allow your web pages to flounder. In the following examples we’re going to focus on your Home page.

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First stop: Using your Keywords & Phrases within the Page Title tag

When search engines arrive at your website, they begin indexing work from top to bottom, and that process starts at your Page Title. The Page Title appears in a web browser's title bar (at the very top), not the human-readable page content itself, and is derived from source code generated by your website. Creating that source code is simple using your CMS Content Editor.  Once entered, the CMS will automatically generate the code necessary for the Page Title to appear in every web browser displaying your page.

The Page Title is the most important single summary of what a page is all about and therefore carries the highest on-page weighting in the Google indexing ‘algorithm’ (the search ‘robot’ – or ‘web-bot’ – that arrives at your website to index and eventually place within Google’s search results).

The Page Title should describe the key areas of your business (relevant to the page) rather than something such as “Welcome to our website”. So perhaps try something along the lines of “Sunshine Coast Investment Properties & Houses Sourced & Sold” (plenty of keywords there but note how it still reads in 'human form'). Keep the Page Title to ~65 characters (including spaces) or less if possible. Google actually truncates at 66 characters or the last complete full word, whichever is smaller. These 'rules' should be applied to every single page within your website, and not just the Home page.

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Next stop on Google’s journey: the Heading and Paragraph Tags

So what exactly are these “h1” tags and why are they so important? During your website build, your designer assigns font and paragraph styles to the text used throughout your website (these styles are defined inside a file called a ‘style sheet’ (or CSS file). These styles cover everything from page headings to paragraph text, to hyperlink text, text spacing, image behaviour and so much more.

To ensure that consistency is maintained throughout your website’s pages, you’re able to assign the main headings on each page the same styling. This means that a heading on your Home page is identical to the heading on your About Us page, and so on. When assigning a text heading to a particular style, it’s called “tagging”. So in reference to the main heading at the very top of each page, this the “h1” tag – short for “heading1”. It is this heading tag that Google takes a particular interest in, by comparing it with your previous Page Title tag and the ensuing paragraph text (similarly tagged as paragraph text).

It’s important that you assign your very first page heading with a h1 tag, and you do this by using your Content Editor. Highlight the heading using your mouse, then select the ‘Heading1’ tag from the drop-down list of style options. That text is now assigned a h1 tag. Don’t worry if the text doesn’t take on the exact appearance that you would like – all we’re doing here is assigning the heading a h1 style. The CSS code in the back-end of your website will pick up on the h1 tag, look to see what styling (such as chosen font, colour and size) has been assigned to the h1 tag, then instruct your visitor’s web browser to display the heading in the style defined by your website’s CSS file.

The paragraph text that immediately follows the h1 tagged title should also be tagged as ‘paragraph’ text, and again you do this using the same method as above: by highlighting the paragraph of text and then selecting the ‘paragraph’ style from the drop-down style menu.

Place your Keywords and Phrases in bold and try to keep words within your page paragraphs to 450-600 words per page. If you need more words, create more pages or sections and link to those instead. Avoid miles of text because your site visitors will most likely skim read anyway – hence the importance of bold text to not only human readers but to Google as well (as explained in the previous sections). You can break down the importance of information on a page by using the h2 title tag followed by paragraph text. However, keep the most important (and keyword-rich) text up top within the initial page heading (h1) and following paragraph/s.

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  • Combine human-readable text with your keywords and try to position your keywords at the start of titles and paragraph sentences
  • Page Titles are the most important single summary of what a page is all about and therefore carry the highest on-page weighting in the Google indexing system
  • Keep Page Title lengths to ~65 characters or less
  • Assign the first page heading on every web page a h1 heading tag
  • In the name of consistency, refrain from overwriting pre-assigned font styles with differing colours or sizes. It’s not only considered poor design but, at worst, leaves your page looking amateurish and unsightly.
  • Keep words on a page to a number between 450-600
  • Use h2 and h3.. (Heading) tags to further break down information on a page
  • Highlight important phrases and keywords in bold text
  • When creating a link to another website or page, assign the sentence directing the page rather than a simplistic “click here” link.

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Why doesn't my site appear in Google or other search engines yet?

Google sends crawlers out to scout the Internet for new websites every few months so it is likely that your website may not be listed by Google or other search engines until 2-3 months after your website is live.

You can help to speed up the process by:

  1. Manually submitting your website to Google (see the Google website for more information).
  2. Proactively seeking referrers to link from their website to yours.   You can offer links back to their website from your website, this is called creating reciprocal links .
  3. Start an advertising campaign with Google such as AdWords (see the Google website for more information).

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Tip: Track visitors

The most effective websites track the way visitors interact with their website.

This is important so that you can continually improve your site and its effectiveness.

Regularly check your sites statistics. See the page called Statistics for more information.

How can I add Google Analytics code to my website?

Google provides a service called Google Analytics.  It enables you to create an account for your website so that you can track statistics pertaining to visitors movements from the Internet to and around your website.  It can be very helpful for website marketing.

    1. Copy the Google Analytics code from your Google Analytics account.
    2. Go to Statistics > Custom Statistics Codes.
    3. Paste the code into a Tracking code box.
    4. Select which parts of your website you would like the code to be added to:
  • The entire website including the shop and checkout :  The code will be added to every single page that is generated by the SiteBuilder.  Your Google Analytics account will contain tracking information for all pages.
  • Just the shop: The code will only be added to category and product pages.  This enables you to use a separate code to track visitors activity as they explore your products and categories.
  • Just the checkout: The code will only be added to pages that the visitor sees as they proceed to make a purchase.  You can add separate code to these pages to track specific ‘conversions' of clicks into sales.
  1. Click Save Preferences. Publish your website to update all pages with the Google Analytics code.

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